Sunday, July 31, 2011

Philly's New Crush Loves You Back

Hunter Pence started off on the right foot Saturday, his first day with his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies.

His day began early, with a lot of packing preceding his travel plans, but Pence made time to conduct a phone interview with 97.5 The Fanatic prior to boarding a flight. During his time on the air, Pence expressed excitement to join the club that agreed to trade four prospects to Houston for him on the previous night. He also described the roster he was joining as "once of the best teams ever assembled".

As good as the previous quote is, the sound bites offered up by the two-time All-star got even better after Pence helped the Phillies lock down a 7-4 win over the Pirates with a run scoring single.

Pence offered up the following quotes while speaking with the media...

"It’s surreal. I'm absolutely ecstatic to be here. To see that kind of support for my first game, I can't explain it, it's awesome."

"It’s fun to look at the squad around here. It’s like being at an All-Star Game."

"I feel over-appreciated...it's nice."

"The fans were giving me chills. I ran out to stretch and they went nuts. It was pretty amazing."

Later in the night, Pence took to his Twitter account to thank Phillies fans for the warm reception he received.

"There was some major love! Thank you Philly for the warm welcome!"

Of course there was, Hunter. And I'm sure a collective "You're welcome" is on its way from over 44,000 people on Sunday as the Phillies close out their three-game series with the Pirates. Philadelphia's citizens and sports fanatics from the surrounding region have heavy amounts of adoration and appreciation to share. With all the big time crushes that Phils game goers have for other Phillies players like Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard, some might think this sort of treatment would no longer surprise people. But, while Pence is new and he didn't realize this before, he clearly knows, now, that this is simply how Philadelphia fans get down. It is justly called The City of Brotherly Love.

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Fans in attendance at Citizens Bank Park cheered wildly for Pence throughout the night. Pence was receptive to the crowd, singing autographs for some lucky fans prior to the game, responding to their cheers with waves, raised arms and thumbs up, then even after Pence was mistakenly called out on a play at first base in the second inning, despite beating the throw for what should have been a base hit in his first Philles at bat, the crowd had his back.

First base umpire Angel Hernandez, whose nephew is injured Phillies LHP prospect Nick Hernandez, ruled Pence out following the throw from second baseman Neil Walker. Charlie Manuel stormed the field to argue, but the call was final.

Nick Hernandez, who is out for the season, following shoulder surgery, was celebrating his 23rd birthday on Saturday night. While spending time with other relatives in Florida, Nick was aware of the situation in Philadelphia and contacted PhoulBallz.com to jokingly offer an apology, on behalf of his family, in regards to Pence's "ground out".

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Phils Acquire Pence, Send Prospects to Houston

The deal took a while, but it's finally done. Hunter Pence is coming to Philadelphia, after the Phillies and Astros agreed to a trade on Friday night. The swap brings the 28-year-old right fielder to the Phillies in exchange for top prospect Jonathan Singleton, MLB Futures Game hurler Jarred Cosart, right-handed pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be named later. Reports also state that the Astros will send $1 million to the Phillies.

Pence, originally drafted by Houston in the 2nd round of the 2004 amateur draft, is a .290 career hitter, playing is his fifth big league season. In 100 games for the Astros this year, Pence posted a .308 batting average with 11 HR and 62 RBI. The 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder is a two-time National League All-star.

Singleton and Cosart were ranked as the Phillies' top two prospects by both the Reading Eagle and PhilliesNation over the past year.

Singleton, a first baseman who has dabbled in the outfield this season, ripped up Class A South Atlantic League pitching to a tune of a .290 batting average with 14 homeruns and 77 RBI in 109 regular season games with Lakewood in 2010 as an 18-year-old. This season, as a member of the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, Singleton is batting .284 with 9 HR and 47 RBI in 93 games. With his OPS dropping from .872 last season down to .800 in 2011, there's a noticeable decrease in power, but considering Singleton is one of the youngest players in the Florida State League, there shouldn't be much concern. He's posting solid numbers based on his age and the level he is playing in.

Cosart, a 21-year-old starting pitcher, posted a 9-8 record with a 3.92 ERA through 20 games with Clearwater this year. The Texas native, who sports a big time fastball that regularly ranges from 96-98 MPH, had produced 9.6 strike outs per 9 innings in his pro career prior to this season, but Cosart has seen that ratio drop to 6.58 K's per 9 innings this year. In addition to a high-velocity first pitch, Cosart also has a strong curve ball and a change up that he steadily works to improve, in his pitch repertoire.

Zeid, a 24-year-old righty, has tackled dual roles this season as well as last season. In 2010, as a member of the Class A South Atlantic League champion Lakewood BlueClaws, Zeid began the season at the back end of the bullpen, later joined the starting rotation for a couple months, then returned to the bullpen for the playoff drive. With the 'Claws, Zeid went 8-4 with 8 saves and a 2.93 ERA. The Tulane University product also successfully started 4 games for Mesa in the Arizona Fall League last year. This season, however, with Double A Reading, Zeid struggled as a starter (6.80 ERA, .290 BAA), but has shined after returning to a relief role (2.25 ERA, .182 BAA). Zeid told me recently that he is considerably more comfortable working in relief. His repertoire includes a mid-90's fastball, a slider and a fosh-change.

It is not clear, quite yet, who the fourth player that the Phillies send to Houston will be.

There is no question that, again, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. got his man. As he has done in recent seasons, Amaro targeted the piece he thought would help his team and made a transaction happen. The same as the prospects the Phillies have traded away to add the likes of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, the minor leaguers sent to Houston this time around have some truly high upside. But, to be honest, the Phillies have long viewed Singleton as a trade chip. Additionally, Cosart is the easier of the two big time prospects to lose, as the Phillies have serious pitching depth in the lower levels of their developmental system. Zeid, a guy who possesses the talent to potentially be a contributor at higher levels, is not the sort of guy the team, or its fans, should hesitate to include in a trade for an everyday player at the big league level.

Judging by the abundance internet chatter, from baseball writers and life-long fans, there are clearly mixed reactions over this transaction. Some say the Astros didn't get enough, others feel that the Phillies gave up too much. As can be said for most trades of this nature...time will tell...

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On Zeid, Amaro told me earlier this year: "Josh Zeid's really kind of put himself on the map, as a prospect."

Exactly one year ago, I spoke with Singleton about surviving Houston trade rumors and remaining in the Philadelphia developmental system. Click HERE to listen to that interview.

Pence will reportedly wear number 3 when he joins the Phillies on Saturday.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Series Preview: Pirates at Phillies, 7/29-7/31

This weekend the Pittsburgh Pirates (54-49) travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies (65-39) in a three-game series that pits the Keystone State rivals against one another and begins on Friday evening at Citizens Bank Park.

The Pirates won 2 of 3 games when these team met in Pittsburgh in June. Last season, the Phillies dropped 4 of 6 meetings with the Buccos.

With both teams battling for a playoff spot in the National League, this series is primed to be an interesting one.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups as well as loads more statistics from this series.

Friday, 7:05PM. Charlie Morton (8-5, 3.69 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (12-5, 2.44 ERA). In 8 starts on the road this season Morton has posted a 5-1 record with a 3.00 ERA. Morton has a 1-2 record with a 7.11 ERA in 4 career starts against the Phillies. In his previous 5 starts, Morton has a 1-2 record with a 5.40 ERA. Halladay is 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in his last 5 home starts. In 4 career starts against the Pirates, Halladay has a 2-1 record with a 1.45 ERA.

Saturday, 7:05PM. James McDonald (7-4, 3.95 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (9-7, 3.05 ERA). McDonald has a 2-0 record with a 1.52 ERA in his last 5 starts. In 10 road starts this season, the righty McDonald is 4-3 with a 5.19 ERA and a .311 batting average against. In 12 home starts this season, Lee has a 7-2 record with a 2.05 ERA. Matt Diaz is 4-for-8 in his career against Lee. Lee has a 2.18 ERA in 17 career regular season starts at Citizens Bank Park.

Sunday, 1:35PM. Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.41 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (7-1, 2.02 ERA). In 11 games on the road this year, Karstens is 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA. Karstens is 5-1 with a 1.56 ERA over his last 10 starts. In 8 day games, Karstens has a 1-5 record with a 3.55 ERA. In 6 home starts, Worley is 4-0 with a 1.62 ERA. Opponents are batting .199 against Worley this season.


Andrew McCutchen knocked his 15th HR of the season against the Braves on Thursday. McCutchen is batting .284 in 50 road games this year.

In 7 career games at Citizens Bank Park, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan has allowed 5 earned runs in 7 innings pitched (6.43 ERA). Hanrahan recorded his 30th save of the season on Thursday.

In 55 career games against the Phillies, Matt Diaz is a .335 hitter with 8 HR and 31 RBI. Diaz is batting .158 in 10 games since the All-star Break.

Jimmy Rollins has posted a .338 batting average in 60 career games against the Pirates. Rollins is batting .230 at home this season.

In 14 career games against Pittsburgh, Carlos Ruiz has a .184 batting average. Ruiz is batting .333 in 19 games this month.

Placido Polanco, sidelined with a back issue, played a rehab outing for Triple A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, going 0-for-2 with a walk in 6 innings played. Polanco is slated to play a full 9 innings for Lehigh on Friday and could return to the Phillies after that.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bonilla Opening Eyes with Lakewood

With better known names like Jesse Biddle, Garett Claypool and David Buchanan getting most of the recognition on the Class A Lakewood pitching staff, Lisalberto Bonilla has been staying off the radar, despite soaring high for much of the season.

Despite being a guy that many have yet to hear of, the 21-year-old righty hurler continues to develop and mow down South Atlantic League hitters. Since his promotion to the BlueClaws from extended spring training on May 3rd, Bonilla has posted a 2-3 record with 4 saves, a 2.06 ERA and a .205 batting average against while striking out 73 batters in 70 innings pitched.

After beginning his time with Lakewood in the bullpen, Bonilla joined the starting rotation in mid-June. By his fifth start, Bonilla was officially a prospect to watch. In his July 6th outing against the Hagerstown Suns, Bonilla threw 9 scoreless innings, while striking out 12 and allowing no walks. Not only did the effort impress the fans in attendance and those listening to the game broadcast and reading box scores elsewhere, his manager, Chris Truby, found it quite remarkable as well.

"It was as good of an outing as I've seen at this level," Truby said. "And he didn't seem to work that hard. It was just a well pitched game by him, using all his pitches."

After signing with the Phillies in December, 2008, Bonilla looked sharp in 11 starts with their Dominican Summer League team, posting a 6-2 record with a 1.41 and 2 shut outs. However, last year, following a good stint with the Gulf Coast League Phillies, Bonilla joined the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters, where he struggled a bit, going 1-3 with a 6.49 ERA in 11 outings.

The key for Bonilla's turnaround this year has been the ability to locate his fastball (which registers regularly at 93-94 MPH), according to Truby, who managed Bonilla last year with Williamsport.

"The use of his fastball, the command of his fastball are the biggest differences," Truby said. "He's always had a good change up to fall back on and, last year, he didn't really command his fastball the way that he has from the start of this year. When you can command your fastball, it opens the door for the rest of your pitches and you can find yourself getting some quick outs as well."

After Bonilla seemed to dominate as a reliever, posting a 1.07 ERA in 11 games and earning a nod as a South Atlantic League All-star, the decision to move the Dominican Republic native into the starting rotation was an easy one, according to Lakewood pitching coach Steve Schrenk. As BlueClaws opening day starter Mario Hollands had a tough go of things early on, the Phillies decided to move him into a relief role, which opened a vacancy for Bonilla.

"He had already built up some innings in extended spring training and we wanted to get him up here to get him pitching, so (using him in relief) was an easy fit for him at first. We knew eventually, he was going to start. It was just a matter of time," Schrenk said.

His physical abilities and his three quality pitches are what could set Bonilla out and have potential Phillies trade partners inquiring about his services. Multiple scouts have been on hand for his recent starts and have seen Bonilla sport a 2-1 record and hold opponents to a .229 batting average while striking out 37 batters over 30 2/3 innings in 5 July starts. However, the Phillies hope his future is in their own organization.

Aside from the effectiveness of his mid-90's fastball, his steadily improving slider and his other pitch that Schrenk describes as "a big league change up", his mental make up is something that folks within the Phillies organization seem to be most excited about.

"His strengths are that he loves to compete and he wants to win. He wants to give his team a chance and he does that," Schrenk stated.

Bonilla, who stands 6-feet-1-inch tall and weighs around 165 pounds, certainly possesses the tools to pitch at higher levels, but, with a history of both starting and relieving, his role as he moves forward and ascends upward in the minor leagues, is unclear.

"Being in the rotation at this level allows him the opportunity to work on all three of his pitches and that, right now, is our main focus and his main focus," Truby said. "Whatever happens (going forward) happens."

As one of 2011's breakout prospects, Bonilla has had a lot happening and has become one to watch, in the Phillies' developmental system.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Giants Land Beltran, Phils Miss Out

The National League pennant chase just got a little more interesting. By now you've heard that the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants executed a trade to land one of the biggest names on the trade market, six-time All-star Carlos Beltran. In recent days, the Phillies had been among the few teams rumored to be in the mix to make a trade for Beltran, but in the end, the team that was the National League runner up last year lost out to the team that knocked them from the post-season.

Reports say the deal will be made official on Thursday, as Beltran has a full no-trade clause that he must waive. The deal is expected to send righty pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to New York.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was clear, on Wednesday, stating that the trade was done to improve the club's own offense and was not in an effort to prevent chief NL rival Philadelphia from acquiring Beltran.

Beltran, who was batting .289 with 15 HR and 66 RBI this season with the Mets, will certainly be a welcome addition to a Giants lineup that ranks 28th in the Majors in runs scored and is second worst in the National League in OPS.

The addition of the switch-hitting three-time Gold Glove Award winner will surely help the Giants throughout a push toward the playoffs, but Beltran's presence will certainly be key for the post-season itself. Should the Giants and Phillies meet in October for the second straight year, Beltran's experience will be huge.

In his career, Beltran has mashed more homeruns against the Phillies (25) than he has against any other team. Additionally, Beltran is clutch in the post-season, having posted a line of .366/.485/.817 in 22 career playoff games.

And just in time for a potential sneak peek at things to come, Beltran is expected to arrive in Philadelphia in time to don a Giants uniform for the first time, as San Francisco and Philadelphia meet in the rubber match of their three-game series on Thursday night.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Series Preview: Giants at Phillies, 7/26-7/28

The National League West Division leading Giants (59-43) visit Philadelphia for the first time since they knocked the Phillies (64-37) out of the post-season last October, as the two clubs begin a three-game series at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday evening.

The Giants and Phillies split six meetings during the regular season last year, however it was San Francisco that defeated the Phillies, 4 games to 2, in the National League Championship Series. The Giants, of course, went on to defeat the Rangers in the World Series.

Former Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will take the hill for the reigning champs. Philadelphia will counter with rookie Vance Worley, who the team has ridden to a 10-2 record in his starts.

Read ahead for some notes on the pitching match ups and some other key stats for this series.

Tuesday, 7:05 PM. Tim Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (6-1, 2.02 ERA). In his last 6 starts, Lincecum has a 3-2 record with a 1.66 ERA. Lincecum is 5-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 11 road starts this season. Ryan Howard is 6-for-19 (.316 avg) with 2 doubles and 3 HR in the regular season against Lincecum. Worley is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 5 home starts this season. In his last 6 starts, Worley has posted a 4-0 record with a 0.94 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:05 PM. Barry Zito (3-2, 4.78 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (12-5, 2.62 ERA). In 5 career regular season starts against the Phillies, Zito is 3-2 with a 4.03 ERA. Lucky for Zito...injured Phillie Placido Polanco is 12-for-16 (.750 avg) in his career against the lefty Zito. In 12 home starts this year, Hamels has produced a 7-3 record with a 2.29 ERA. Hamels has a 4-1 record with a 1.05 ERA in his last 6 home starts. Right-handed hitting opponents are batting .199 against Hamels this season.

Thursday, 7:05 PM. Matt Cain (8-6, 3.06 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.45 ERA). In his last 4 road starts, Cain is 1-0 with a 2.36 ERA. In 5 career regular season starts against the Phils, Cain has a 0-3 record with a 6.23 ERA. In regular season action, Chase Utley is 7-for-15 (.467 avg) with 3 homeruns against Cain. In 12 home outings this season, Kendrick has a 2-3 record with a 3.21 ERA. Kendrick's .266 batting average against is the best mark of his 5 year career.


Aaron Rowand is a career .355 hitter in 21 career games, including the post-season, against the Phillies.

In 20 games on the road this season, Brian Wilson has a 2-0 record with 16 saves, 3 blown saves and a 3.50 ERA. Wilson is 5-for-5 in save chances since the All-star Break.

Mike Fontenot is a .171 hitter in 18 career regular season games against the Phillies.

Former Phillie Pat Burrell is on the disabled list, as he is suffering with a bone spur in his right foot.

In 32 career regular season games against the Giants, Ryan Howard is a .225 hitter. In 19 July games, Howard has posted a .227 average.

Jimmy Rollins is a .256 career hitter in 57 regular season games against San Francisco with 9 doubles, 10 triples and 8 HR. Last year in 9 games against the Giants, including the post-season, Rollins went 11-for-37 (.297 avg.) with 10 RBI.

In 51 home games this year, Raul Ibanez is batting .292, compared to his .194 average in 44 road games.

Giants team ERA- 3.08
Phillies team ERA- 3.13
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Prospect Packages: What the Phillies Can Offer

In recent years, the Phillies have acquired elite talent, adding Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in separate blockbuster trades. The packages of players sent away to make those deals all included highly ranked prospects.

Fans and experts alike presume the Phillies have depleted their system of prospects with the amount top minor league players traded in those deals. That's far from true, as many individuals currently in Philadelphia's developmental system have proven worthy of high recognition.

If the Phillies are going to put together similar groups of players to add a key contributor at the big league level again this season, they'll surely need to send away more ascending young talent. In order to understand what type of package the Phillies would be required to deal, it's important to look at what they gave up in those previous trades.

Cleveland/Lee trade...July, 2009- RHP Jason Knapp, IF Jason Donald, C Lou Marson, RHP Carlos Carrasco.

Knapp was the young ace of the Class A Lakewood staff and had earned attention with his high-90's fastball. The emerging young hurler with ace potential on the BlueClaws staff this year is last season's top draft choice Jesse Biddle. But Biddle, a 19-year-old Philadelphia native, doesn't throw quite as hard as Knapp - his fastball has been ranging in the low-90's in recent starts. In his latest 10 starts, Biddle has been sharp, posting a 1.85 ERA.

Donald was a force with Double A Reading in 2008 (.304 avg, 14 HR, .889 OPS in 92 games) and turned 25-years-old in 2009, after he was sent to Cleveland. The current Phils prospect most comparable to Donald is likely third baseman/first baseman Cody Overbeck, who has ripped up Double A pitching, but has now hit a bit of a skid at Triple A Lehigh Valley. The 25-year-old Overbeck leads the Phillies organization thus far in 2011 with 21 homeruns, combined at two levels. Overbeck, an 8th round draft pick in 2008, has even dabbled in the outfield this year, adding to his versatility and appeal to potential trade partners.

Marson, a solid catcher that was 23-years-old at the time he was dealt, was originally a 4th round draft pick by the Phillies in 2004. Looking around the Phils' system for catchers with similar potential, draft spot and age, last year's 3rd round pick Cameron Rupp stands out. Regarded for his defense, Rupp, who will turn 23 later this year, has had a scorching hot July, batting .391 in 17 games for Class A Lakewood.

Carrasco was ranked as the Phillies' top pitching prospect headed into the 2009 season, by multiple outlets. Currently, the Phillies' top minor league arm is Jarred Cosart (pictured), who sports a 97-98 MPH fastball along with a strong curveball and an improving change up. Cosart, a 21-year-old, was a Florida State League (Class A Advanced) All-star this season and represented the Phillies in the MLB Futures Game.

Toronto/Halladay trade...December, 2009- C Travis d'Arnaud, RHP Kyle Drabek, OF Michael Taylor.

The former supplemental 1st round draft choice d'Arnaud was among the Phillies' top prospects from the start of his professional career. The presence of an emerging young catcher, Sebastian Valle, made d'Arnaud expendable in December, 2009, but now Valle is the well regarded Philadelphia catching prospect that teams will inquire about. A Florida State League All-star and a representative for the Phillies in this year's MLB Futures Game, the 21-year-old is among the best position player prospects in the organization.

Drabek was untouchable in the July, 2009 Lee trade, but the Phils pulled out all the stops to acquire Halladay. As the Phillies top pitching prospect at that time, the current Phils farmhand who hits that bill would again be Cosart.

Taylor, a 5th round draft choice out of Stanford in 2007, combined to bat .320 with 20 HR and 84 RBI at Double A Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2009. With power potential that has unfortunately stalled a bit since his departure from the Phillies, Taylor, 23-years-old at the time of the trade, was a very desirable corner outfielder. The closest thing the organization currently has to that, despite positional and age variances might be Reading first baseman Matt Rizzotti, the 25-year-old Eastern League All-Star. Rizzotti has been hot lately (.338/.419/.550 in July) and could be appealing to an American League club as a designated hitter option, which could result in a secondary trade, the same way Taylor was sent from Toronto to Oakland..

Houston/Oswalt trade...July, 2010- RHP J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose, SS Jonathan Villar.

The closest thing the Phillies currently have to what Happ was when this deal happened is Vance Worley. Happ was a very solid big league performer who was never quite ranked highly among pitching prospects in the system, but earned his spot by outshining other pitchers on the club. Worley is in the process of becoming the Phils' next "he could help you now" trade chip.

Gose, a young leadoff-type, commanded attention with his speed. The Phils closest player to Gose this year might be Jiwan James, who isn't as fast as Gose, but has the high ceiling and a potentially better bat. Being a switch-hitter is also a nice feature of James' offensive game.

Villar was touted for his defense and got his offensive game on track last season with Class A Lakewood. Middle infield is an area of the developmental system in which the Phillies do not possess much depth right now. At the time of 2010's Astros trade, Villar was 19 years old. The Phillies' best shortstop prospect right now is 21 years old...his name is Freddy Galvis. The Dominican born Galvis is having the best offensive season of his career, having upped his batting average more than 30 points in his second full season in the Double A Eastern League, and already reaching career highs in doubles and homeruns.

With the rumor mill nearly cranking out more trade partners for Philadelphia than the Phillies' organization produces sought-after youngsters, there are a few particular offensive pieces that could become the next blockbuster acquisition.

The newest name that is reportedly available, Rays outfielder BJ Upton, could command a heavy return. The 2nd overall pick in the 2002 draft has always been regarded as a player with all the tools to validate such a selection.

Upton is making a bit over $4.8 million this season and is under team control for next season as well. The 26-year-old righty hitter had an outstanding season in 2007 (.300 avg., .894 OPS, 24 HR, 82 RBI) in his first year as a regular in the majors. However, Upton's output has declined, with his batting average dropping in each season since then and his OPS being at least 150 points lower than his 2007 mark in 4 of 5 of the seasons that followed. His 2007 was heavily BABIP driven (.393) and he has not come close to matching that mark since.

Reports have Tampa Bay targeting pitching prospects in any deals they discuss, which the Phillies are extremely deep with. Brody Colvin, a 96 MPH fireballer made a name for himself last season, helping Lakewood lock down a second consecutive South Atlantic League title. The righthander missed time earlier this season with a back strain, but has been strong lately, posting a 2-1 record and a 2.52 ERA over his last 6 starts. The 6'3" tall, 200-pound Colvin was ranked as the Phillies' #3 prospect in this year's preseason rankings done by PhilliesNation and PhoulBallz.com. Other hurlers that could appeal to the Rays might be right-handed reliever Eric Pettis, who has excelled in the past year and proven to be quite a steal in the 35th round of the 2010 draft out of UC Irvine. Pettis, a 23-year-old has posted a 1-3 record with 5 saves and a 2.75 ERA in 33 combined games with Lakewood and Clearwater. Another one of Clearwater's group of "Baby Aces", right-hander Julio Rodriguez has been outstanding this season. The FSL All-star has held opponents to a .189 batting average and he sports a 12-6 record with a 3.17 ERA while striking out 106 batters in 110 2/3 innings.

Another name that has been tied to the Phillies on the rumor front is veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran. The 34-year-old has proven to be injury prone in recent years but has shed that label in 2011. In 96 games this year, Beltran is batting .291 with 15 homers and 64 RBI. A free agent after this season, Beltran is regarded as the biggest available difference maker on the trade market, so while other options might be more appealing long-term, a team hoping the bring it all home this year might target Beltran over guys who could be controlled after this year.

The Mets are reported to have a high asking price for Beltran. A package that begins with Colvin or Clearwater All-star Trevor May, who has struck out 151 batters in 112 innings, could be what New York is looking for. May, a 4th round draft pick in 2008, is a righty hurler that was ranked as the team's 6th best prospect prior to the season. Reports have stated that the Mets would want Vance Worley (6-1, 2.02 ERA in 12 MLB games this year) in any deal with the Phillies for Beltran. It's also possible that the Mets would demand the Phillies' top positional prospect, first baseman/outfielder "The Boss" Jonathan Singleton. The 19-year-old Singleton, who was an 8th round draft pick in 2009, is a .286 hitter in 224 career games as a pro and has shown serious power potential. The Phillies have reportedly cooled off on Beltran, and the New York Post says the Mets are having a hard time finding a team that will part with a Top 40 prospect for him.

The name with the heaviest ties to the Phillies this season has been Houston outfielder Hunter Pence. With whispers circulating that the Astros would demand highly regarded Philadelphia rookie Domonic Brown for Pence, the possibility of the 28-year-old wearing red pinstripes seems less and less likely. However, if the Phillies can use their abundance of younger prospects to draw interest, then another July deal with Houston and former Phillies general manager Ed Wade could happen. Singleton should be on the wish list of any potential swap mate, but the Phillies have other outfielders with solid pop and considerable upside. 22-year-old Dominican Republic native Leandro Castro is performing well with Clearwater (.277 avg, 10 HR, 31 RBI in 56 games) and 18-year-old Domingo Santana is taking strides this season with Lakewood (.267 avg, 7 HR, 29 RBI in 90 games). A combination of one of those guys, along with a member of Clearwater's Baby Ace squad (Cosart, Colvin, May, Rodriguez or righty Jonathan Pettibone) as well as a hurler that is closer to the big show like 25-year-old Austin Hyatt (9-5, 4.09 ERA, 125 K's in 112 1/3 IP for Double A Reading) or 25-year-old Michael Schwimer (6-1, 8 saves, 1.75 ERA, 73 K's in 56 2/3 IP for Triple A Lehigh Valley) could be the sort of deal that gets this done.

With five days left until the non-waiver trade deadline, there is sure to be much attention to many of the names mentioned here. No matter what sort of young talent a potential suitor is looking for in return, the Phillies have it in their system. Whether or not they are willing to deal it will determine a deal getting done. It is better to be in this position than, say, the Brewers, who simply don't have enough minor league firepower left to make a move.

Keep in mind, though, that the Phillies' have a history of adding a cheap, veteran bat for their bench after the non-waiver deadline, in August (see Matt Stairs, 2008...recalling Miguel Cairo in 2009 and Mike Sweeney, 2010), while acquiring pitching help in prior to the deadline, in July (see Joe Blanton, 2008...Cliff Lee, 2009 and Roy Oswalt, 2010) so be prepared to wait and lower your expectations for offensive help.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Steve Susdorf Speaks with PhoulBallz.com

Outfielder Steve Susdorf has been a solid contributor all season long for the Double A Reading Phillies. In 77 games this year, the lefty hitting Susdorf has posted a .332 batting average with 6 homeruns, 35 RBI and an OPS of .883.

Drafted by the Phillies in the 19th round of the 2008 amateur draft out of Fresno State University, Susdorf has performed well at each level, as he's moved up the ranks in the Philadelphia developmental system. In 2008, he batted .295 in 50 games with Williamsport and Lakewood. The following season, he posted a .324 average in 85 games at three different levels. In 2010, the 6-foot-1-inch 195-pounder spent the entire season with Class A Advanced Clearwater, batting .278 with 11 HR and 77 RBI in 128 games.

The 25-year-old R-Phils standout took time recently to talk about his success this year, his coaches, time spent with some big league Phillies and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Series Preview: Padres at Phillies, 7/22-7/25

The Phillies (61-36) return home to begin a 4-game series with the Padres (44-55) on Friday night at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park.

Returning from the disabled list and joining the active Phillies roster for the first time this season, following a long rehab process in the minors for his injured shoulder and elbow, Brad Lidge will rejoin the club he helped reach the post-season each of the past 3 seasons. With 99 saves as a member of the Phillies, Lidge ranks fourth all-time in team history, 13 behind Jose Mesa for the top spot.

To make room for Lidge, Philadelphia designated Danys Baez (2-4, 6.25 ERA) for assignment. Baez struggled in recent weeks, posting a 14.89 ERA since May 25th.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups as well as plenty more statistical information for this series.


Friday, 7:05PM. Cory Luebke (3-3, 2.57 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (11-5, 2.71 ERA). The lefty Luebke is 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his last 4 starts. In 16 road outings this year, Luebke has a 1.82 ERA. Hamels has a 5-2 record and a 2.42 ERA in 10 career starts against the Padres. In 11 home starts this season, Hamels is 6-3 with a 2.41 ERA and a .186 batting average against. In his last 5 home starts, Hamels is 3-1 with a 1.03 ERA.

Saturday, 4:10PM. Mat Latos (5-10, 4.02 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (5-4, 3.34 ERA). Latos is 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in 3 career starts aganst the Phillies. In 8 road starts this season, the right-handed Latos has a 2-5 record with a 4.50 ERA. In 11 games at home this season, Kendrick is 2-3 with a 2.89 ERA. Kendrick is 2-1 with a 5.91 ERA in 3 career games against the Padres. Ryan Ludwick is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his career against Kendrick...that lone hit was a homerun.

Sunday, 1:35PM. Tim Stauffer (6-6, 2.83 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (11-4, 2.57 ERA). The right-handed Stauffer has a 0-1 record with a 11.15 ERA in 3 career games against the Phillies. In his last 8 starts, Stauffer has a 5-2 record with a 1.33 ERA. Halladay has a 2.43 ERA in his last 5 home starts. In his career against SD, Halladay has produced a 2-0 record with a 1.72 ERA in 2 games. Cameron Maybin is 1-for-10 (.100 avg) in his career against Halladay.

Monday, 1:05PM. Aaron Harang (8-2, 3.29 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.83 ERA). In 11 career games against the Phillies, Harang has a 2-2 record with a 5.22 ERA. Harang has a 3-0 record and a 1.73 ERA over his previous 8 starts. Chase Utley is 9-for-20 (.450 avg) with 4 doubles and a HR in his career against Harang. In 11 home starts this season, Lee is 7-1 with a 1.61 ERA. Lee is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 4 career games against SD.


Padres closer Heath Bell has a 1.65 ERA and 17 saves in 17 outings on the road this season.

Ryan Ludwick has a .143 batting average in 13 career games at Citizens Bank Park. Ludwick is 0-for-9 with 5 strike outs in his career against Brad Lidge.

In 26 career games against the Phillies Cameron Maybin is a .274 hitter. Maybin has posted a .346 average in 10 games at Citizens Bank Park.

Antonio Bastardo has a 0.53 ERA in 17 outings since the start on June. Opponents are batting .109 against Bastardo this season.

Chase Utley has a career line of .306/.387/.563 in 42 games against the Padres. Utley is batting .266 in 21 home games this year.

Raul Ibanez's 14 RBI in July lead the Phillies. Ibanez is batting .289 in 47 home games this season, compared to his .194 avg. in 44 road games.

Padres team batting average- .234
Phillies team batting averaye- .249

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BlueClaws Walk-off: Miguel Alvarez

A ninth inning rally lived up to the expectations of Lakewood's "Cardiac 'Claws" nickname on Thursday night. In what was a close match up from start to finish, the Greenville Drive (Red Sox affiliate) tied the game at 3 runs apiece in the 8th inning and took the lead with a run in the 9th. The defending two-time South Atlantic League champion BlueClaws plated two runs in their final turn at bat to win in walk-off fashion.

In the contest, lefty pitching prospect Jesse Biddle struck out 8 and allowed 2 earned runs in 6 inning to earn a no decision and slugging first baseman Jim Murphy went 2-for-4 with a double, a HR and 2 runs scored. However, it was left fielder Miguel Alvarez (pictured) who made the most memorable impact on the game that featured a rematch of the SAL title series from each of the past two seasons. With the bases loaded, following a single by Edgar Duran to tie the game at 4, Alvarez slapped a single to left field that brought the winning run home. The 21-year-old Alvarez, a native of the Dominican Republic, said after the game that it was his first walk-off hit outside of the D.R.

Check out the media player below to see Alvarez lock down the 5-4 victory, then celebrate, and hear post-game comments from Lakewood manager Chris Truby.




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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Savery Refocused as Reliever in Lehigh Valley

A poor 2010 season on the mound for Joe Savery seemed to secure the switch for the lefty pitcher into an everyday position player. This time last season, the Phillies were preparing to completely alter the career of their former 1st round draft pick. Now, Savery is back where he started and, some say, better off than he ever was.

With increased velocity, reaching 94 MPH with his fastball in recent weeks, Savery has revamped a pitching career that was virtually in forced retirement on opening day.

After posting a 1-12 record and a 4.66 ERA mainly as a starter for Triple A Lehigh Valley last year, the Phillies changed Savery to a full-time offensive player in the latter stages of the season. Savery proceeded to bat .348 in 36 games as a hitter in 2010.

This season, playing first base, outfield and spending time as a designated hitter, Savery, a Rice University product, climbed the developmental ladder, as he had once done as a hurler, beginning in 2007 after the Phillies selected him 19th overall in the amateur draft.

In his first full season as an offensive player, the Phillies assigned Savery to Class A Advanced Clearwater to open 2011. Savery got off to a hot start with the bat in April, collecting 12 hits in his first 15 at bats with the Threshers. His offensive production cooled, but he was promoted to Double A Reading in mid-June with a line of .307/.368/.410.

Reading had pitching and offensive needs, thus the 25-year-old Savery was thrust into a dual role, continuing to bat regularly and helping the bullpen with a refined menu of pitches, as needed.

"When he came to us it was 'keep him pitching' and 'keep him hitting'," Reading manager Mark Parent said. "(But), for me, he hit like a pitcher. And when he got back on the mound, his velocity was up, his breaking ball was good. (Assistant General Manager, player development) Chuck (La Mar) and the guys took the change up away for the time being, so he could get used to spotting his fastball and throwing that breaking ball."

Upon his return to Reading, where he was a starting pitcher and was named an All-star in 2009, Savery made 6 relief outings and posted a 1.00 ERA in 9 innings of work. Most impressive of Savery's statistics was his strike out to walk ratio, during his stint with Reading. His 14 strike outs versus 0 walks in 9 innings was outstanding.

The improvements in the 6-foot-3-inch 220-pound Savery's pitching game were noticed and now he is officially back to being a pitcher, aside from an occasional pinch hit appearance, and he was promoted again, back to Lehigh Valley.

Parent, a former big league catcher, feels that there's a completely different mental approach for everyday players than there is for starting pitchers. He views the switch from pitcher to offensive player, and back again, as something that has been extremely beneficial for Savery, who has gained a new outlook on the game.

"When you go into the hitting side, playing defense and what not, it becomes more of a team oriented ballgame," Parent asserted. "You kind of get out of yourself, you're not as hard on yourself day in and day out. You don't have five days to sit around and worry about your next start or how good or bad you were in your last outing. (Savery) got out of his own way for a little bit.

"So, what he's doing is going out there, having fun, being aggressive with his fastball and putting guys away. He's like, 'The sooner I get off the field, the better'. Because now he's stood out in left field now, or been at first base and (had thoughts like), 'Come on, throw a strike!' or 'Just get this guy out!'"

And while Savery's struggles in the past have baffled and frustrated some folks around the Phillies organization, himself included, Savery has remained a likeable guy that the organization really wants to see reach his potential and succeed at the highest levels. However, despite being willing to help Savery as much as he could, Parent jokingly expressed a bit of uneasiness, when it came to the role switching Texan.

"I kind of don't like being around him too much, 'cause he's too nice. But he's a kid you pull for," Parent said.

After some doubt and a remarkable trial, over the past year, in which the Phillies used Savery in varied capacities, LaMar and the organization are pleased with the direction Savery is heading now. Back at Triple A, Savery is again one step from the dream of every minor league player and, with his newest assignment of relief pitcher and his updated pitching repertoire, it will be up to him if he can perform well enough to earn a promotion to the Majors.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lidge Rehab Complete as Lakewood Downs Greenville

Brad Lidge, in what was slated to be his final rehab appearance in the minors before the Phillies activate him to the MLB roster, tossed a 1-2-3 inning for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws against the Greenville Drive (Red Sox affiliate) on Wednesday afternoon.

In a scoreless 8th inning, it took Lidge 10 pitches to retire all three batters he faced. He induced a ground out from lead-off batter Wilfred Pichardo, struck out speedster Felix Sanchez with a slider and got Philadelphia area product Sean Coyle to ground out as well.

Unfortunately for Lidge, who has been clear about his desire to add some velocity before he makes his big league return, his fastball again peaked at 88 MPH on Wednesday, which is where it has been since early in this rehab process.

Following the outing, Lidge expressed his relief regarding being finished with the recovery from his shoulder and elbow strains as well as some excitement about rejoining his teammates in Philadelphia.

"It's crazy. It's hard to even describe," Lidge said. "Being out for (this) entire year, going up and down the minor league system, just about every spot, trying to work your way back. I'm more than ready and it'll be nice to be with the guys again."

Lidge worked back to back days for Reading over the weekend, throwing 2 scoreless innings in 2 appearances, Saturday and Sunday. The 34-year-old right-hander said he felt fine on Monday, as though he could have pitched a third straight game.

Expecting to be activated to the Phillies roster on Friday, Lidge closed out his time in the minors with a sigh and a laugh, stating, "Everything feels good...finally!"

In the contest, the two-time defending South Atlantic League Champion BlueClaws got a terrific starting effort from right-hander David Buchanan, who took a shutout into the 7th inning. In a rematch against the team they've defeated to clinch the championship in each of the past two years, Lakewood won the series opener against Greenville, 8-2.

On the day, the 22-year-old Buchanan allowed 2 hits and 2 earned runs, while striking out 7 and walking 2 over 7 strong innings. The win for the SAL All-star Buchanan, his 10th, leads the SAL.

Catcher Cameron Rupp sparked the offense, going 3-for-3 with 3 runs driven in for Lakewood. The 2010 3rd round draft pick, Rupp, has been hot at the plate in July, posting a .407 average in 14 games.

The BlueClaws will continue their three-game series with the Drive on Thursday when last year's top Phillies draft selection, LHP Jesse Biddle (5-6, 3.10) takes on Greenville RHP Scott Swinson (2-2, 2.44 ERA). Game time is 7:05PM.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CM Punk Conquers Wrestling, Baseball Next?

Professional wrestler CM Punk, whose contract with World Wrestling Entertainment was set to expire this past Sunday, has been threatening for weeks that he would win the WWE Championship in his final match, in his home town of Chicago, and take the title with him when he left the company.

Punk has been stirring up great amounts buzz for the sport of pro wrestling in recent weeks, as he has come close to breaking away from the "script" by insulting the boss, Vince McMahon, as well as other WWE big shots on multiple occasions. Recently, Punk declared that he was "the voice of the voiceless", offering recognition to other stars who were either let go by or never given a chance by WWE.

On Monday, after escaping the WWE's Money in the Bank event on the previous night with the WWE championship, CM Punk was spotted sporting a Cubs jersey at Wrigley Field with Phillies' 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels. The Phillies tweeted an image of the two champs.


Additionally, Punk's impact was felt in the minors when independent league broadcaster Qumar Zaman used Punk's "voice of the voiceless" line as he quit his job with the Lake County Fielders, live on the air following a recent game.

As the team, which is partially owned by actor Kevin Costner, apparently struggles financially, the front office has not been paying its players, coaches and other staff members. Just prior to a recent game, the Fielders' manager and a considerable amount it the roster quit, due to the payroll issues and disrespect they had been forced to deal with.

Those that quit initially spoke their minds simply by leaving. However, Zaman, who was also not paid for several weeks, had a public platform to air his grievances and he did so. In his postgame rant, Zaman not only used a line from CM Punk, but he also shouted out his friends and expressed excitement over being able to watch Punk's expected final WWE appearance on pay per view with them. Audio of Zaman's rant can be heard in the media player below.



Props go out to AwfulAnnouncing.com for supplying the clip.

It's pretty odd that Punk would walk away at the height of his popularity and at the top of the pro wrestling business, but as he's proven to be the best at one sport, perhaps he could use some of his athletic talents to help turn around his hometown Cubbies that have not won a championship in 103 years.

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Matt Rizzotti Answers Questions From the Phillies Nation

Phillies first base prospect Matt Rizzotti is putting together another outstanding season for the Double A Reading Phillies. In 92 games with the R-Phils, Rizzotti has posted a .292 batting average with 18 homeruns, 57 RBI and a .905 OPS.

Named as the Phillies' 11th best prospect in PhilliesNation's and PhoulBallz.com's preseason rankings, Rizzotti was an Eastern League All-star for the second straight season.

It's not a secret that as a slugging lefty batting first baseman/designated hitter, there isn't much room for for the 25-year-old Rizzotti on the Phillies big league roster. It doesn't discourage him, however, as he stays focused on reaching his ultimate goal...the Major Leagues.

Rizzotti, a native of Floral Park, NY, is a genuine, likeable, fun-loving individual that many fans have grown to adore, even from afar. So members of the Phillies Nation submitted questions via e-mail, over Facebook and through Twitter.

Check out the media player below to hear the full question and answer session and see if your inquiry reached the 6-foot-4-inch 265-pound masher known as "Rizz".


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Monday, July 18, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Cubs, 7/18-7/20

With some extra rest since his last start, in last Tuesday's MLB All-star Game, Roy Halladay is all set to begin the second half of his season and go after his 12th win of the season, as the Phillies (59-35) begin a series on the road in Chicago, taking on the Cubs (38-58) at Wrigley Field.

Former Phillie right-hander Rodrigo Lopez will take the hill for Chicago in the opener.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and other key stats for this series.


Monday, 8:05PM. Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.45 ERA) vs. Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02 ERA). Halladay has a 1-3 record with a 3.24 ERA in 4 career starts against the Cubs. In his last 10 starts, Halladay has posted a 6-0 record with a 2.68 ERA. Aramis Ramirez is 2-for-16 (.125 avg) in his career against Halladay. In 6 career games against the Phillies, Lopez has posted a 1-1 record and a 5.74 ERA. Lopez has a 4.66 ERA in 6 home appearances this season. Ryan Howard is 6-for-11 (.545 avg) with a HR in his career against RoLo.

Tuesday, 8:05PM. Cliff Lee (9-6, 2.82 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (4-7, 3.97 ERA). Lee is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 5 career starts against the Cubs. In 8 roads starts this season, Lee has a 2-5 record with a 4.73 ERA. Lefty batters are hitting .195 against Lee this season. Geovany Soto is 1-for-10 (.100 avg) in his career against Lee. In his last 3 home starts, Garza has a 1-0 record and a 1.54 ERA. Garza has held the Phillies to a .160 batting average in 2 career regular season starts against them.

Wednesday, 2:20pm. Vance Worley (5-1, 2.15 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (7-6, 4.68 ERA). In his last 5 outings, Worley is 3-0 with a 0.89 ERA. Worley has a 2.96 ERA in 6 games on the road this season. Dempster has a 5-4 record with a 4.90 ERA in 23 career games against the Phillies. In his last 4 home starts, the right-handed Dempster has produced a 1-1 record with a 1.27 ERA. Chase Utley is 7-for-11 (.636 avg) with a double and a homerun in his career against Dempster.


In 13 career games at Wrigley Field, Carlos Ruiz has posted a .189 batting average. Ruiz is batting .219 against left-handed pitchers this season.

Raul Ibanez is batting .333 with a .972 OPS in 11 July games. In 31 games batting 5th in the batting order this season, Ibanez has posted a .290 average, while he is batting .223 everyplace else in the order.

In 21 games at Wrigley Field, Ryan Howard has a .282 batting average with 7 HR and 20 RBI. Howard is batting .238 in 44 road games this season.

Geovany Soto is batting .200 in 37 home games this season.

In 20 career games against the Phillies, Kosuke Fukudome has a .211 batting average. In 46 home games this season, Fukudome has posted a .324 average.

Starlin Castro is batting .305 in 49 home games this season. In 10 career games against the Phillies, Castro is 18-for-40 (.450 avg).

Phillies team ERA- 3.12
Cubs team ERA- 4.69
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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Victorino Set to Return, Lidge Days Away

On Sunday afternoon, Brad Lidge and Shane Victorino competed for the Double A Reading Phillies for the second straight game against the Trenton Thunder at Waterfront Park, as both men rehabbed from injuries. On consecutive days, both men contributed to a Reading victory, as the R-Phils chase Trenton for the Eastern division Wild Card spot in the Eastern League.

Victorino, batting lead-off and playing center field on Sunday, took highly touted lefty pitching prospect deep, out of the stadium in the 1st inning, and rounded 3rd base before Reading manager Mark Parent, manning the coach's box, informed Victorino that the umpire had called it foul. Victorino then sarcastically thanked the umpires for letting him practically round the bases before informing him of the call. He then returned to the batters box and worked a walk.

Later in the frame, Victorino stole home on the back end of a double steal.

The 30-year-old All-star batted again in the 2nd inning, striking out against Banuelos, who was reaching 94 MPH regularly with his fastball. Another turn at bat against the 20-year-old phenom in the 5th inning produced a single. Victorino was later called out attempting to steal 3rd on a 3-0 count to end the inning, although video showed that he beat the tag on that play. Later in the game, Victorino grounded out against right-handed Chase Whitley.

On the day, Victorino was 1-for-3 with a single, stolen base, caught stealing and a run scored.

Lidge, 34, tossed a scoreless 7th inning to preserve Reading's 4-2 lead. After striking out Yankees Futures Game representative Austin Romine on 3 pitches, he surrendered a sharp single to first baseman Rob Lyerly. Lidge then induced a fielders choice that moved the runner over. The next batter, newly promoted Zoilo Almonte was credited with an infield single on a grounder to first base on which Lidge was late covering the bag. Lidge bounced back, striking out Jose Pirela on a slider for the third out.

The R-Phils team radar gun clocked Lidge's fastball from 87-88 MPH. His final line was 1 inning pitched, 2 hits allowed, no walks, no runs, 2 strike outs. While his slider has been on point throughout his rehab stints with Class A Lakewood and Reading, Lidge and the Phillies are still looking for some increased velocity as he approaches activation on the Major League roster.

"I’ve got another (rehab) game to go and I want to try to get a little more on my fastball," Lidge said, following the game. "I think my slider kind of progressed faster than my fastball."

Lidge is scheduled to pitch for Lakewood on Wednesday at 11:05 AM. After that, he hopes to be activated by the Phillies when they begin a home stand against San Diego on Friday.

The final score in the contest saw Reading edge the Thunder, 4-3, and pull to within 1 game of the Wild Card lead. Right-hander BJ Rosenberg got the win, while reliever Justin Friend notched his 6th save since his promotion from Clearwater in mid-June.

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Victorino, Lidge Outstanding in Rehab with R-Phils

TRENTON, NJ- A pair of Phillies big leaguers thrilled fans in attendance on Saturday night at Waterfront Park, home of the Trenton Thunder. On rehab assignments with Class Double A Reading, relief pitcher Brad Lidge and Gold Glove Award winning outfielder Shane Victorino contributed to a convincing victory, as the R-Phils won in a rout, 13-2.

At the plate, as the team's designated hitter, Victorino, who has been sidelined with a right thumb injury, went 3-for-5 with two singles and a double, while driving in a run. The right-handed Lidge, out with shoulder and elbow ailments, breezed through a 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches, striking out one batter, inducing a fly out and throwing out the third batter on a come backer to the mound.

The 30-year-old Victorino experienced discomfort in his thumb during batting practice and in the game. He was sure it was something that he could and should play through.

"The pain's tolerable and that's all that I was worried about," Victorino said. "It didn't get worse throughout the game and that's a good step for me."

Victorino, who batted first in the Reading lineup, wore a guard on his thumb while running the bases, but used no additional gear while batting. He declared that there is no pain at all when he throws.

Lidge looked and felt as good as he has all year. The 34-year-old expressed satisfaction with his effort on Saturday, as he bounced back from 3 wild pitches, 2 hit batsmen and a walk in 2/3 of an inning in his previous rehab outing with Reading on Thursday. Lidge's command of his pitches was his greatest concern as he continues to move forward.

"(My fastball command is) what I focused on today," said Lidge. "Everytime you go out, you're trying to accomplish something to get you closer to Philly. Last time out, I was trying to get more on the fastball and (my) control wasn't great, so this time I told myself to get my control better and it was. That's a good sign...when I can make adjustments from outing to outing, that's a good sign."

With his fastball peaking at 89 MPH, Lidge proclaimed that he held back a bit on the mound, in the interest of locating his offerings.

"I backed off a little bit tonight to make sure my command was there. It felt like I could rear back and throw more tonight, and maybe I would have had good command with that too, but tonight, I really wanted to focus on control," Lidge stated.

The sell-out crowd of 8,137 seemed to be wearing more crimson red than navy blue, as the Phillies' affiliate visited the Yankees' Double A club. The recovering former All-star closer, Lidge, acknowledged the turnout after the game.

"Just like everywhere we go, there's a large Phillies following and it's no different here," Lidge stated. "We just have a large network or fans everywhere. They travel well."

Like Lidge, Victorino was pleased with the turnout, expressing excitement over the reception he received from the heavily Phils favoring crowd.

"That was great to get an ovation my first at bat and also, when Brad came in, the ovation they gave him," Victorino said. "That's a testament to our fans...how happy we are as players to have fans like that, that travel everywhere to watch us play."

Both players will continue their rehab assignments with Reading on Sunday at 1:05PM, in the fourth and final game of their series in Trenton. Victorino expects to play 9 full innings in centerfield. He is eligible to be activated from the disabled list this coming Tuesday. Lidge is slated to make one additional rehab appearance for Lakewood on Wednesday, then expects to be activated from the disabled list on or around next Friday, July 22nd.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shane Victorino Rehab Images, 7/16/11







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Friday, July 15, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Metropolitans, 7/15-7/17

As the second half of the season begins, the National League East division leading Phillies (57-34) travel north on the turnpike to take on the Metropolitans (46-45) at Citi Field.

New York made headlines earlier this week, on the night of the All-star Game, when they dealt closer Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers for two players to be named later. The Metropolitans are expected to continue to be sellers as the non-waiver trading deadline approaches.

Philadelphia is making news of its own, as this series begins, placing All-star third baseman Placido Polanco on the disabled list with a bulging disc in his back. The move is retroactive to July 5th, so Polanco would be eligible to return from the DL on July 20th.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and other key stats for this series.


Friday, 7:05PM. Vance Worley (4-1, 2.20 ERA) vs. RA Dickey (4-7, 3.61 ERA). In 3 career outings against the Metropolitans, Worley has a 1-1 record with a 4.50 ERA. Worley has a 2-0 record with a 0.72 ERA in his last 4 Major League starts. In 4 career starts against the Phillies, Dickey is 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA. In 9 home starts this season, Rickey has a 1-5 record with a 3.98 ERA. Dickey, a right-hander, is 1-1 with a 1.88 ERA in his last 4 home starts.

Saturday, 4:10PM. Cole Hamels (11-4, 2.32 ERA) vs. Jonathan Niese (8-7, 3.88 ERA). Hamels has a 5-1 record with a 2.20 ERA in 8 road starts this season. In 15 career starts against the Metropolitans, Hamels has a 3-9 record with a 4.22 ERA. In his last 9 starts, Hamels has a 5-2 record with a 1.54 ERA. Scott Hairston is 6-for-17 (.353 avg) with 2 doubles and 3 HR in his career against Hamels. In 6 starts against the Phillies, Niese is 2-3 with a 3.11 ERA. In his last 5 games, Niese is 2-2 with a 5.48 ERA.

Sunday, 1:10PM. Kyle Kendrick (4-4, 3.58 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (5-8, 4.55 ERA). In 11 road games this season, Kendrick has a 2-1 record with a 4.18 ERA. Jose Reyes is 10-for-26 (.385 avg) with a double, a triple and 2 HR against Kendrick. The righty Pelfrey is 6-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 16 career starts against the Phillies. In 7 starts at Citi Field this season, Pelfrey is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA. Chase Utley is 10-for-32 (.313 avg) with 2 doubles and 4 HR against Pelfrey in his career.


In 17 career games at Citi Field, Ryan Howard has a .219 batting average. Howard's 18 homeruns this year are all against right-handed pitchers.

Domonic Brown is batting .371 in 9 July games. Brown is 5-for-7 (.714 avg) in 3 games at Citi Field this season.

In 38 road games this year, Raul Ibanez is batting .179. This season with runners on base and 2 outs, Ibanez has posted a .302 avg.

Carlos Beltran has posted a .301 average with 7 HR and 24 RBI in 41 home games this year. Beltran is a .260 hitter in 111 career games against the Phillies.

Justin Turner is batting .299 in 29 home games this season. In 5 games against the Phillies, Turner is 7-for-17 (.412 avg).

In 37 games since the end of May, Daniel Murphy is batting .329.

Phillies team ERA- 3.02.
Metropolitans team ERA- 3.95.

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Lidge Shaky, T-Mac Honored in Trenton

TRENTON, NJ- Brad Lidge made his second rehab appearance for the Double A Reading Phillies on Thursday night and it didn't go as well as the veteran reliever or the team had hoped. Lidge struggled with his command and turned in a rather poor outing for the club that entered the night in a playoff race, 1 game behind division rival Trenton for the Wild Card spot in the Eastern Division.

On the disabled list since spring training with a strained right rotator cuff, Lidge experienced an elbow strain when he was working back from that issue in late May.

In his outing against the Yankees affiliate in Trenton, Lidge displayed difficulty with his control as he threw three wild pitches, hit two batters, walked another and gave up a single, all while letting up two earned runs on 28 pitches in 2/3 of an inning.

After the disappointing performance, Lidge was composed and focused on some positive aspects, having reached 89 and 90 MPH on scouts' radar guns, according to some reports.

"It was a step up for my velocity, it was a step back for my control. But we've got some outings (left) to work on that," Lidge said. "It was a poor outing control wise, but it was a good outing because I felt healthy."

The 34-year-old right-hander threw a scoreless inning earlier this week as Reading played host to the Thunder. He's seen progress in his own pitches and was not discouraged by his rough second outing against Trenton.

"I'm in the area now, where I feel like my stuff has gotten just about all the way back," Lidge stated. "My control is not quite where I want it. Surprisingly, my first couple outings, my control was real good, and tonight it wasn't, so it's kind of more of a realistic- I'm not quite there yet."

Lidge is targeting a return to the Phillies on Friday, July 22nd, following three more rehab appearances. The plan currently has Lidge pitching in back to back games with Reading at Trenton on Saturday and Sunday. He would then rest for two days and pitch again the following Wednesday, possibly at Lakewood.

As for what role Lidge could fill the rest of the way for the Phillies in 2011, that is not clear, but Lidge was sure that he'll simply try to do his best, no matter which inning he pitches or what assignment he receives.

"The way I view it is, I want to let (Phillies manager) Charlie (Manuel) know that I'm healthy to throw any outing, any time of the game that he wants me to throw," Lidge said. "I'd like to be able to get all the way back and be able to close again, but this year Madson and Bastardo have done an outstanding job and I want them to continue to do an outstanding job, so that we can keep winning games. There's no other way to look at it."

Trenton won the contest by a score of 9-5. Reading starter JC Ramirez (7-9, 4.22 ERA) took the loss, allowing 7 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

On a more positive note, the Thunder held a pregame ceremony to honor current Phillies television play-by-play man Tom McCarthy, who was Trenton's original radio voice, and inducted him into the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame. The team also named the home team broadcast booth after McCarthy, who attended the event with his wife Meg and their sons.

"It's unbelievable," McCarthy told the media following the pregame ceremony on the Waterfront Park field. "I am unbelievably humbled by everything...the whole thing. The radio booth part of it is just remarkable, it really is. But I will cherish it and the moment more than anything else that I've had."

McCarthy, who joins DeMarlo Hale, David Eckstein, Tony Clark and Nomar Garciaparra, among others, in the Trenton Baseball Hall of Fame, said that earlier in the day he had gotten some joking words of encouragement from one of his broadcast partners, former Phillie Gary "Sarge" Matthews Sr. The tip didn't help much, however.

"Sarge said to me today, 'Make sure you don't cry.' I said, 'I'm not gonna cry, Sarge!' Well, I felt myself...I was pretty teary, I really was. I was pretty teary, because I think about all the people that were such a big part of this. Whether it be Jim Maloney, Sam Plumeri, or Larry O'Rourke, you know, people that aren't around any more. People that, in their own way, all had an impact on the success of this franchise."

Reading is in Trenton through the weekend, as the two clubs continue their four-game series. Game two, at 7:05PM Friday, will feature R-Phils righty Tyler Cloyd (3-1, 3.48 ERA) taking on Trenton left-hander Steve Garrison (2-6, 6.98 ERA).

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Phillies Prospect Trivia Challenge

The history of baseball is one of the main drawing points to the greatness of a sport that dates back to the 19th century. Baseball trivia helps drive discussion and interest. Fans and players alike all value the past as much as the present, if not more so.

Have you ever wondered how your Phillies knowledge might stack up against the players themselves? I know I have. But I also realize that perhaps the fan possesses an advantage over those guys, since they haven't watched the team all their lives. Upon Scott Eyre's 2008 arrival in Philadelphia, I recall hearing details of how little he knew about the organization, which initially forced me to think that players couldn't possibly know as much about the team as the fans do.

But what if there were individuals that grew up as fans of an organization and later ended up playing for that team? Well, lo and behold, the Phillies have two pitchers in their developmental ranks that used to watch games from the stands at Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park before signing professional contracts with their favorite big league club.

Lefty hurler Jesse Biddle was the Phillies' top draft pick in 2010. The Philadelphia native grew up adoring the team that he is now regarded as a top prospect for. Biddle, in fact, attended Game 5 of the 2008 World Series when the Phillies clinched their second ever World Championship. Biddle is now in the starting rotation for the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

Mike McGuire, a righty reliever for the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, grew up in the Philadelphia area suburb of Swarthmore, PA. Despite being more physically suited for basketball or football at 6 feet 7 inches tall and 240 pounds, Mike grew up in a baseball family, one that was very much into the Phillies, so he chose to pursue the sport was most prevalent in his home.

For fun, I decided to prepare a trivia quiz to test the historical knowledge of the two life-long Phillies fans that are living the dream, playing in the minor leagues for the team they've always followed.

The quiz contained questions dating back to the infancy stages of the organization, included inquiries dating up to the team's current run of superiority and asked plenty from in between.

Despite a prediction of domination, the 25-year-old McGuire struggled with the much older themed questions. Unfortunately for the 19-year-old Biddle, he experienced the same problem.

Both players, who grew up watching the 90's and early 2000's Phillies teams, were more confident when it came to record holders from those time periods.

One question that seemed to present quite a challenge for both hurlers was in regards to the 1950 Whiz Kids team and which player on that roster was honored as the National League Most Valuable player. Following two incorrect guesses and learning the accurate response, McGuire jokingly proclaimed that if Biddle knew the answer he would proceed to bash him about the head. Separately, Biddle struggled to muster even a guess for that question. I playfully offered Biddle the chance to use a lifeline, which he took.

Walking nearby in the Lakewood locker room was home team clubhouse attendant Russ Schaeffer, who quickly changed the game. Schaeffer is a Telford, PA native and an alum of Souderton Area High School, the same school former Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer attended. A life-long fan of the Phillies, Schaeffer, who might possibly double Biddle in age, proved that no contractual connection to the team will top a lifetime of fandom.

Where Biddle and McGuire came up short, Schaeffer displayed strength. Philadelphia Cy Young winners? The players couldn't list them all, but Schaeffer rattled them off with ease. All the years the Phillies competed in the World Series? Neither player could list each one, but Schaeffer had no problems. Retired jerseys? Difficult for the players but not for Schaeffer.

The full list of questions, answers and results are listed below.

1- There are 20 different men that have both played for and managed the Phillies. How many can you name?

Biddle knew Bowa, and knew that there was a quick transitional skipper in charge of things just after Bowa's time was done, but could not recall the name Gary Varsho.

McGuire came up with more names on this item. He got Larry Bowa, Dallas Green, John Vukovich and Gary Varsho.

Credit on this one is awarded to McGuire. Other correct answers- Bob Ferguson, Bill Purcell, Arthur Irwin, Billy Nash, Chief Zimmer, Hugh Duffy, Red Dooin, Pat Moran, Gavvy Cravath, Kaiser Wilhelm, Art Fletcher, Stuffy McInnis, Jimmy Wilson, Hans Lobert, Ben Chapman and Pat Corrales.

2- There are 8 jerseys retired by the Phillies. Name them.

Biddle was quick to rattle off an easy few with Robin Roberts, Mike Schmidt and Richie Ashburn, but incorrectly named Richie Allen. The lefty pitcher somehow neglected to name the most famous lefty of them all, Steve Carlton, and took quite a while to recall that Jackie Robinson, who has his number 42 retired by all MLB teams, was one of those honored in that way.

Initially, McGuire exclaimed, "I got this!" He named Mike Schmidt, Robin Roberts, Steve Carlton, Jim Bunning and Jackie Robinson. However, he hit a wall and embarrassingly couldn't come up with Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn.

This was the question on which Russ was grabbed as Biddle's rescue option, when we came back to this item, after passing initially. Schaeffer named them all with great ease, including Grover Cleveland Alexander and Chuck Klein. 1 point to Russ.

3- How many career HR does Mike Schmidt have?

Both pitchers tied with an incorrect guess of 528. If one was closer, I might have given him credit, The Price is Right style. Unexpectedly, Russ joined the event and was confident with his correct assertion of 548.

Russ knew it. He gets the point here.

4- The Phillies have been in the World Series seven times. Can you name each of the years the Phils played in the Fall Classic?

Biddle slowly remembered all but one of the years, except the Phillies' first appearance in the World Series, 1915.

McGuire blew this question simply by neglecting to mention the 2009 season. Honest mistake, but that not acceptable. McGuire also missed the 1915 season.

Russ was familiar the full list of years- 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983, 1993, 2008, 2009. Point to Russ.

5- Who is the all-time team leader with 112 career saves?

An easy question from the era in which both players were avid fans, Biddle and McGuire had no trouble declaring that "Joe Table", AKA Jose Mesa, was the top save getter.

No point awarded, as both players were successful.

6- Which member of the 1950 Whiz Kids team was voted as the National League Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America?

This is a tough one. However, super fan Russ knew that Jim Konstanty was the man here. Biddle guessed Ashburn. Mike guessed Roberts.

1 point for Russ, who was able to deliver impressive facts about Konstanty, beyond what the question requested.

7- Can you name the four different pitchers that have won the Cy Young Award as a member of the Phillies?

Biddle promptly knew that Roy Halladay was one and that Steve Carlton was another, which triggered another answer for the retired jersey question, a question he had passed on with the promise to come back to it. He later incorrectly named Roberts, who never won a Cy Young Award.

McGuire knew the same initial two, with Halladay and Carlton, then tossed out an incorrect guess of Curt Schilling. He was shocked to learn that Schill had not won a Cy Young Award as a member of the Phils. He was even more surprised to hear that Roberts also never won the award.

This one seemed easy for Russ, who earned credit for another challenge question, correctly adding John Denny and Steve Bedrosian to the list of answers.

8- There is one current MLB franchise that the Phillies have never traded with. Name it.

The correct answer is the Rockies. No one guessed correctly. Too obscure?

9- In 1933, who became the first and only Phillie to win the offensive triple crown?

Biddle declared at this point, "This is hurting my head!" He knew that he had seen the name dozens of time, but could not come up with it.

McGuire battled here, wanting to think for a while, but couldn't come up with the answer. He knew Klein, upon hearing the answers and wanted to kick himself.

Russ got another Family Feud style steal here.

10- Who is the Phillies’ single season HR leader with 58?

Another easy one for the young guys. Both hurlers knew that Ryan Howard was the team's single season HR leader. Tie, so no point awarded.

Post challenge notes:

Following our chat, Biddle stated that he wasn't as confident afterward, as he was prior to hearing the questions. He was prepared to chalk a possible loss up to his youth.

McGuire ended our conversation by expressing concern over potentially losing to a younger Biddle. However, it was not the youngster in the midst of his first full season as a pro that McGuire should have been worried about. It was, in fact, the vulture trivia beast named Russ Schaeffer.

Results:

The young prospects matched up evenly. Neither stood out as a clear winner over the other. Perhaps less "ancient" material and more Macho Row and Doug Glanville era material would have suited them better. The elder Russ represented the fans extremely well and proved to be a force with historical Phillies knowledge.

Conclusion:

Fans are superior to players, even those that were once fans, in regards to factual familiarity with their teams. Watching games, listening to broadcasters, experiencing the ball parks as a patron, reading books, re-watching games and engaging in discussions with other fans, throughout a lifetime, force the individuals to absorb more data than they even realize. Congratulations, fans. You've beaten the Phillies. For now.

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McGuire image- Joe Wombough

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